How Doctors Die

Marsha and I had a conversation in which we discussed living wills and how we might want to go when death kindly stops for us. Marsha had read this thing on the internet on how doctors die, which is a bit on how doctors choose to live their last days. The blog was easy to find in a Google query:

Marsha and I are of a like mind that we have no intention of living in some antiseptic prison in our final days or weeks or months with a low quality of life and bleeding money to a compassionless medical assembly-line industry.

It’s Not Fair

Last night during our agility class Tempest had a seizure, and continued seizing in a cluster for nearly an hour. We counted ten events. During the cluster of terrible fits we drove him to the emergency vet clinic in Parkersburg, WV. They monitored him overnight; had him on IV filling him with drugs and painkillers.

This morning we moved him to our own vet in Marietta. Our vet is keeping an eye on him as he comes out from under the drugs. I sat with him a long while. He was vocalizing his despair and distress and was pretty much inconsolable. We’ll be going back around noon to bring him home. We’ll have a discussion with the vet about preventative maintenance.

Now I mention the bit on “How Doctors Die” above to provide the philosophical framework to our compassion for our own dogs. We will not prolong the existence of an animal if the cure represents a horrible diminishment in the quality of the dog’s life.

So we will see. We are both grief stricken. And we’re numbed by not knowing what will be next. It will either get better, or it will get worse.

I got this dog for Marsha as a birthday gift a couple years ago. All we really wanted was a dog who was eager to work. After a decade of rescue dogs and baggage projects it was fun and promising to go for a dog that comes from solid working stock. Like most dog sports people, we bring a dog into our house and he is family. Tempest has been Marsha’s best buddy and training partner.

And now this… it’s not fair.

Sorry to share all of this. I do know that all of the people reading my blog have a fair understanding of what we’re going through. We all know the love and grief we feel in the frail and short lives of our dogs.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The Country Dream web store is up and running. You know… I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an embarrassingly inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

8 Responses to “How Doctors Die”

  1. Kim Says:

    I went through this very thing last Christmas. In a 30-hour period, my wonderful four-year old, Punch, had 9 gran mals in a 30-hour time. It was horrid; the first one lasted for 45 minutes. When Punch was diagnosed with IE in 2009, I promised him that when the “lights” in his eyes went out, I would not delay his suffering. That series took the light out of his eyes and on 15 January of this year, I held him in my arms and talked softly in his ear as he left. The agony of loss is still sharp. Not only Punch, but my 12.5 year old, Clark, said good-bye at the same time, though epilepsy was not Clark’s issue.
    It is a hideous affliction. I’ve been blessed with many Aussies in my life over the years and this event is never far from my thoughts as I continue on with my life with Aussies.
    I grieve for you and Marsha and what will happen with Tempest. I am sure you know he trusts you and knows you will do the right thing for him at the right time.
    Be well.
    Kim Waldron
    Fort Bragg, NC

  2. Courtney Keys Says:

    My heart broke to read this…. it definitely isn’t fair, especially to such kind people as Marsha and you. You guys are in our thoughts.

  3. Linda Knowles Says:

    This is really sad news to hear Bud and no it’s not fair at all. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

  4. Sandy Cody Says:

    Life is not fair and sometimes it just really sucks! Sending positive thoughts your way.

  5. Christine Says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you both. It is never easy to love someone enough to let them go. I’m sorry.

  6. Andrea Says:

    I’m so sad for all you … hang in there

    been there, and that makes it harder not easier to watch and relive …

  7. Peggy Johnson Says:

    “…we bring a dog into our house and he is family.”

    Haven’t ever met you, but that’s all I need to know. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Marsha Nix Says:

    I have been way behind on reading emails, so you can imagine how I felt when I saw the news about Tempest. Of course my heart goes out to you both and I hope Tempest’s situation has a favorable outcome. I also read the article that you linked to your post. Bruce and I have talked a lot about what we want to be done in such a situation. Quality is much more important the quantity. It is a reminder that you should appreciate every day you have.

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